A more recent version of these Ivf & Embryo Selection notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
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IVF & Embryo Selection Human Fertilization & Embryology Act 1990
Created HFE Authority which issues guidance on ARTs and licences their use;
? Licensed activities a. Storage of embryo b. Storage & use of gametes
? Key principle: consent(Evans v Amicus)
? Parents who wish to have another child whose tissue could be used for ill sibling can test the embryo o Quintavalle v HFE Authority- issue of HFEA's licence being granted to test embryos for compatible stem cells for a 4 y/o boy who would otherwise die. Unsuccessful challenge by CORE. Held s11 to determine if practice proposed is "suitable" gave Authority large margin of appreciation, no reason to believe it would allow practices such as testing for blue eyed babies etc. Decided on narrow statutory basis, very little discussion of ethics. (i) Bringing the person into the world for sole purpose of assisting a sibling infringes the presumption that people shouldn't be used simply as means to an end
= It's extremely unlikely that's how parents would treat him (ii) Could cause psychological problems when child leans of it, esp. if matching didn't work
= No actual evidence/guesses don't justify denial of life saving treatment
? Savulescu's principle of procreative beneficence (moral obligation to select best children) - in absence of some other reason for action, prospective parents must use PDG to choose an embryo w/greatest chance of leading the best life (i.e. life w/most well being) based on both disease & non disease traits, such as intelligence, even if that increases social inequality. Such choices will result in more fulfilling lives being led; i.e. we can thus create moral good w/out any particular person being harmed by it.
? Stollen- no moral obligation to select best children?3 ethics approaches to morality: a) consequentialism b) deontology (rightness/wrongness of action depend on whether the actor adhered to certain moral rules protecting rights of others) c) virtue ethics (focuses on agent's character/what moral values are driving his actions) Beneficence has a role to play in reproductive ethics; i.e. deontological & virtue ethics concerns might have a bearing on morality of decisions by certain individuals to conceive, may justify clinic's screening policy, may explain our sense of it being morally praiseworthy to work towards better future for our kids, even if that work determines the existence of different children (e.g. have kids 5 years later b/c will be in better financial position). But by focusing exclusively on consequences we ignore key components of our sense of morality. Must look at the issue through the lens of deontological or virtue ethics, in addition to consequences approach.
? Herring - history teaches us lessons against selecting people on the basis of a trait we consider desirable at the time. We learn about things over time - how to know this is the right decision? Research suggests Down's syndrome Ps are on average happier than healthy people. Who says disabled don't add anything to the world?
? Savulescu - b/c reproductive choice to have a disabled child doesn't harm him, couples should be allowed to make those choices, even though may have a child w/worse life prospects as a result. As rational people, we have to form our own ideas of what best prospects are & act on our value judgments - can engage them in dialogue but must respect their decisions. Deaf lesbians having a deaf child through IVF example.
= Bizarre use of Mill's harm principle...
? Harris - we have a general moral obligation to avoid bringing disabled people into the world, regardless of the level of disability, provided we find out about it at the time when abortion's available. Disabled have the same worth as healthy people but it's morally wrong to bring disabled foetus into the world.
? Walsh - Harris is wrong & there's no such obligation. Instead, there's a moral obl. to submit each case to morally sensitive scrutiny of circumstances & context, taking many variables, incl. degree of disability, into acc. Sterilization (i) Competent adult - must consent (ii) Incompetent adult - in P's best interests + least intrusive way of protecting those interests (iii) Incompetent child - as above; Order under Children Act 1989 or wardship jurisdiction
Don't take into acc: interests of carers + eugenics
Do take into account: (a) "Best interests" test - court has to believe that, considering all arguments, procedure is in P's best interests o ReF - middle aged woman voluntary resident in hospital w/mental age of child formed relationship w/male P, successfully applied for Decl. allowing sterilization w/out consent b/c in her best interests = wouldn't be able to cope w/pregnancy + other contraception unsuitable.
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